Claire Algarme works for EO Melbourne, a chapter of Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO), and is a fan of FIFA World Cup football (which Americans know as soccer). As one who contributes to EO and its unrelenting commitment to support the complete entrepreneur with tangible, take-home value for leaders, Claire noticed similarities between the challenges footballers face on the field and those that entrepreneurs face in their businesses. Here's what she shared.
This weekend as the World Cup finals kick off in Moscow, millions of fans worldwide will tune in to watch every pass, penalty kick, cut back, yellow card and score.
The sport of football--or soccer, in America--is widely considered the most popular sport in the world. The excitement is contagious whether you tune in via satellite or head to the stadium for live action.
But have you ever considered the parallels between action on the soccer pitch and in the daily lives of entrepreneurs? There are lessons to be learned from competitive sports that translate to the business world. Whether you're kicking or bootstrapping, these nine tips will keep you at the top of your game.
1. Be hands-on in business
While this tip plays to the goalie's advantage, it's critical to keep a tight grip on your business and learn every detail of running it. When you have a hand in every aspect of your organization, you hold the critical information necessary to maximize opportunities when a "free kick" opportunity comes your way. It's also smart to keep a steady grasp of customer needs through regular communications that keep your finger on the market pulse. Just as a ball becomes an extension of the player, a company is an extension of its owner. Being hands-on enables you to take the lead in moving your business forward.
2. Draft the right players
On the field, teammates work together toward a common goal, so choose team members who have your back. It's Business 101: Smart leaders hire rockstars who round out the team and complement each other's skill sets. Nurture your company culture by sharing your vision, values and mission with employees and prospects to be sure that your roster is composed of like-minded individuals who will act in tandem to move the ball down the field.
3. Keep your eye on the prize
Just as every World Cup game has twists and turns, leading a company is fraught with unexpected challenges. The best way to conquer such perils is to keep your eye focused on the long-game--the vision of success you formulated for yourself and the company. It's easy to get discouraged when you're down by three and the other team gets a penalty kick, but keep in mind that you're only four fast goals from victory. Refuse to get discouraged and focus intently on what it will take to win the day. Huddle with employees to strategize the best path downfield, analyze existing data and then plot your comeback.
4. Stay flexible
In order to position for an optimal goal kick, players must assess the field as conditions fluctuate, and prepare to pivot. As changes impact the business landscape, you must maintain the capacity to swivel and disrupt. Stay open to new options and possibilities; modify your game plan to adapt as the environment evolves. Study the long-game and anticipate new developments to secure a solid position for your next play.
5. Kick with all your strength
As players charge toward the goal, speed increases and momentum builds. As your business takes off, put all of your power behind it to reach greater heights. Invest time, passion and talent generously to enable your venture to prosper. Encourage teammates to rush the goal alongside each other as you combine your energy to score, bringing you one step closer to achieving your dream. When you do score, be sure to review the game tape for analysis. Never settle; maintain a constant energy to improve.
6. Be wary of opponents
Even when you think the game is won, don't let your guard down; that's when problems arise. Study your competitors from every angle to assess their strengths, weaknesses, specialties and capabilities--or risk defeat. Your competition may come from an unexpected source, such as an industry disruptor, someone within your company, or a lack of confidence in yourself. Identify negative forces that hinder success and neutralize them.
7. Bounce back after defeat
Even the best teams lose an occasional match; just as the best leaders make mistakes. But failure can be a motivating teacher. When you lose a client or contract, examine what happened. You're down, but you're not out. Give yourself space to regroup and strategize how to face similar situations successfully in the future. Strengthen your leadership muscles and stretch your capabilities; admit weaknesses and train to overcome them. There's no place to go but up.
8. Run hard and never stop
Running is essential in soccer, as it is in business. You have to pick up speed, pivot, maintain agility and complete your interim goals so that every successful play edges you closer to victory. Success is an aggregation of small wins. As you charge tirelessly toward your vision, you may become breathless--but once the goal is attained, you'll realize it was worth every ounce of effort invested.
9. Enjoy the game in progress
While the ultimate goal is victory, getting there is part of the fun. When you love what you do--as the footballers playing on the World Cup stage certainly do--working long hours won't dampen your spirit because you're following your dream. But don't forget you're not alone on the field. Make time to balance family life, personal interests and passion projects, which make you the competitor you are and will continue to be. Be sure to respect your opponents, league and spectators who all contribute to making your efforts worthwhile. When the game is over and you've won, celebrate with your teammates, then get ready to run faster and harder toward the next goal.